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North. Sierra Nevada
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Last poolChipitín Canyon


Car approach: 23.9 km.
Hike in: 1.2 km.
Hike out: 1.2 km.
Hike duration (including the canyon): 5 h.
Date: 04/17/2010
Gear: 2 x 60m ropes, wetsuit and life jacket.

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The Chipitín (and Matacanes) canyons are in the Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey. These are world class canyons, not only for their fun jumps, spectacular waterfalls and emerald waters but also for the sculpted walls and exuberant vegetation. We did Chipitín as part of the activities during the 2010 Rendez-vous organized by the Mexican branch of the ACA.

These canyons are only accessible as part of an organized trip by one of the local outfitters and is unlawful to attempt them in any other conditions. On top of that, the local authority requires that every canyoneer wears a life-jacket.


Jen and Luca rappellingFrom the Hotel Hacienda Cola de Caballo, follow the paved road NL-20 uphill for 6.6 km to the Puerto Genovevo pass (WP PtoGenovevo). Leave the road and turn left sharply down the dirt road at the Civil Protection gate and head for Las Adjuntas (WP LasAdjutas) at 15.1 km from the hotel. This fire road is in good conditions, but beyond Las Adjuntas it narrows and deteriorates. It climbs up the rugged terrain of the Parque Cumbres de Monterrey offering magnificent views in the distance but intimidating when you realize how close the edge of the road is from your vehicle’s window. After 8.8 km from Las Adjuntas, you get to the tiny village of Potrero Redondo, where you will leave the car (CH01 PotreroRedondo). Here, you can arrange for a donkey that will carry you and/or your gear up from the exit of the canyon.

Take the “street” that branches to your left as you arrive to the village and look for the Cascada Potrero Redondo sign (CH02 SignCascPotRedondo). Follow it down the drainage. Our guide took a wrong detour that led us to the return trail. This is also the trail that takes you to the beginning of the Hidrofobia Canyon (CH03 GoLeft4Hydrofobia). Instead of backtracking, we cut uphill and found a trail (CH04 Trail) that eventually took us to a fire road (CH05 RdGoLeft). We followed it until the Chipitín streambed (CH06 DropIn).

Ira slidingDescription of the canyon:

The flow of Chipitín changes drastically with the year and the season. When we did it, the water level was very low for the first section. Although the downclimbs and rappels were dry on this first part, all were very slippery and some of them landed on cold pools. After a tributary joints Chipitín on the canyon right (5th rappel), the water flowed for the short rest of the canyon.

Gear up at the CH06 DropIn waypoint and follow the river downstream. You will find a couple of downclimbs (CH07 DwClimb01) before the first rappel (CH08 Rap01, 10m). After a short walk you arrive to the anchor of the second rappel (CH09 Rap02, 25 m). We went down the slope on the canyon left. This is immediately followed by the third rappel (CH10 Rap03, 30m). The last 5 meters are overhung and land on a open area. From there to the top of the fourth rappel (CH11 Rap04, 40m) there is only a short stretch. This one ends on a cold pool. You can do a wet disconnect or stop on a small ledge 3 m from the water, disconnect and jump from there. You could downclimb from there but the pool is worth investigating. Depending on the water level, you can swim to some hidden caves. It’s also fun to jump from the rock opposite to the rappel wall.

A short walk after that, takes you to the fifth rappel, where the tributary joints from the canyon right. This is a 25m drop with a couple of possible anchors (CH12 Rap05). The preferred one is a tree on the wall on the canyon left. A more sketchy alternative is a smaller tree on the center of the drop. Both options land on a cold bigger pool. From the water, look upstream the tributary to appreciate the curios formations on the walls and the moss and ferns hanging from them.

Chipitin waterfallYou are now approaching the spectacular end of the canyon. First is a unique toboggan that projects you into a pool. Keep you left elbow on top of your belly as you slide down to avoid hitting it with the left wall of the toboggan. The shore at the other end of the pool is an open window 80m above the emerald pool below and flaked by high walls. This is the top of the Chipitín waterfall. This platform is windy and waiting before the toboggan is a good idea if you’re cold. Technically, this last part is the most difficult. On the canyon right there is the anchor for the guided rappel (CH13 RapGuided, 45m) that takes you to a tree on the right wall. This guided rappel goes under the waterfall while you are hanging high from the bottom. From the tree, the last rappel drops to the pool. There is not much space around the tree, so only a few people can stay there at the same time. This second stage is a mostly free hanging 45m drop, landing on the beautiful pool. Don’t rush and enjoy the astonishing surroundings: sculpted walls decorated with vegetation, the waterfall spreading wider and becoming mist before joining the different hues of green at the pool.

Last rappel


Swim to the rocky shore and take off all your gear or swim to the cavern behind the waterfall and explore the area. This is the end of Chipitín… and the start of Hidrofobia !!

For a last dose of adrenaline, you can try the first jump of Hidrofobia and get a taste for its name. Look for a rounded rock beyond the long slide where the water flows down to the next pool. From that rock, you can launch yourself into the big crystalline pool. A few steps carved on the rock will guide you to the launching spot. Get to the rounded tip of the rock and backtrack your steps to the wall at your back, run, leap forward, fly, scream and splash. BTW, jump forward enough to save the branches sticking out from the rock below you…

Come back up to the rocky beach on the canyon left. Go through the narrow hole and climb up veering left. You’ll go between big boulders before arriving at the beach.

Hike out:

The trail out of the canyon begins at another hole through the same boulders on the opposite direction. It’s a steep zigzagging trail up to Potrero Redondo.

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